I have read other blogs about parents playing roleplaying games with their kids - and particularly, with their daughters. I recall one where the adventure seemed to be focused mostly around riding ponies and shopping, which, whilst I can accept that some might find that fun, I am thoroughly glad I don't have to partake in. Indeed, when Ali and I sat down to take her character "Grandold the Hobbit Wizard" on his first adventure, her first two questions were right to the point: "Are we going to fight something?", and "What can we fight?"
Effort was made to tie in the oncoming desired battle with some form of story, but all Ali was interested in was hitting something - and, in short time, that 'something' became a green dragon. With a little convincing, I scaled it down to a few green drakes, used the stats for the kobold mooks, and told her that she was after them because they kept eating her flowers. Ali was on board with that, with an encouraging "yeah!", and so Grandolf and Denver (the dwarven ranger I built to accompany her character) set out to deal with these pests.
The first roll of the session was a natural 20 for Grandolf's initiative, to which she cheered and demanded a high five. Strangely, from then on, it was the hopes that we would each roll the same number (not necessarily a high number) that excited her. I am still playing around with how to balance 13th Age combats, so this first battle was decidedly easy; the three mooks did not stand long against two characters and their friendly wolf. That in itself wasn't a surprise - I didn't want poor Grandolf to go down on his first outing. And it was most likely a good choice, too, as Ali's grasp of tactics didn't really match up to her eagerness for battle. It's not every day you see a wizard leap into melee, zap the enemy once, and then turn to bludgeoning them over the head with his staff...
Ali was keen to heal up again once the combat was over, even though Grandolf had barely been scratched. Again, she called for battle, and her desire for the green dragons had not been quenched, so I grabbed a large mini, and looked up the stats for a real green dragon. Level 4...it could be dangerous?
The second skirmish started with us both rolling natural 4's for initiative...so of course, Ali had to run around the house, telling everyone how wonderful it was that we both rolled the same number. She had no care that it meant the dragon was able to bite us before we could react - we had rolled the same number, so more high fives were called for!
As it turned out, low rolling was the flavour of the encounter, and I was beginning to wonder if the green dragon had any bite, when it finally started triggering all of its special abilities. It's definitely an interesting mechanic - instead of being able to choose between a number of actions, the dragon had one attack, and three triggered follow-ups. The way it played out for us is that it did minimal damage for the first three rounds, where it missed or barely hit, then on round 4, it almost ate poor Denver alive!
Having no experience of fighting green dragons, Grandolf's first attack was his Acid Arrow. The aim was botched, but there was a slight hissing as the splashback dissolved a few scales. The rest of the battle was back to thumps with his staff, whilst Denver and his wolf focused on keeping the dragon off the wizard. I did get the benefit of the "reroll-on-a-2" Two-weapon-fighting rule, which I enjoyed, but also brought up an interesting rules question I will have to research: is it the initial natural 2, or the new, rerolled score, that triggers the ranger's second attack?
With the dragon's saliva burning our skin (Ali then quizzed me as to what effect her mucus would have on the dragon...eww...), it was looking dire indeed, when a marvellous series of deft strikes (including one staggering critical) from Denver weakened the dragon enough that Grandolf's next clobbering knocked all the fight out of it. " 'I surrender!' ", I had the dragon say, and described to Ali how it now cowered before her, respecting her power. "What do you do now?" I asked her.
"I beat him up!" came her reply. Hrmm... it would seem I need to teach her about accepting a surrender.
"No," I tried to clarify, "He is giving up - he is saying sorry, and that you win. What do you want him to do?"
"Fight us!!" Even after all her previous calls to battle, the violent call was still a surprise. I guessed I just had to make the dragon seem even more weak and grovelling!
" 'No, please, I won't bother your garden any more - just let me go...' " The dragon made a final plea for mercy before the all-powerful and enraged wizard.
Something must have finally made it through, because her next response was a simple "OK, we go home." And with that, the adventure was complete.
Ali enjoyed her time, and I managed to learn something about the system from the two minor encounters. Hopefully, next time will not be so focused on dragon-slaying; but for now, the good thing is that there will be a next time. Already, she has been asking me "Daddy, when can we play that game with Grandolf and the dragons again?" It's definitely a hit for her, and it's a fun thing we can share together.